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Working on Plan B

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue says American farmers could weather U.S. NAFTA withdrawal

There are more signs the United States could pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said he is “talking with the administration and Congress about some mitigation efforts” if U.S. President Donald Trump withdraws the United States from NAFTA,” Ag Insider, an online, subscription-based publication, said Nov. 10, crediting Politico with reporting it first.

USDA’s Plan B came up one day after eight farm and agricultural trade organizations warned the House Agriculture Committee there would be big losses for American farmers without NAFTA.

Canada and Mexico account for one-third of U.S. agricultural trade. Farm groups have repeatedly cautioned U.S. negotiators “to do no harm,” while renegotiating NAFTA.

Ag Insider, said according to Politico,“Perdue acknowledged that pulling out of NAFTA could have ‘some tragic consequences’ for U.S. producers, but also said that farmers can adapt to changes in the market.”

During a recent visit to Modesto, Calif., Perdue said he told Trump NAFTA is important to agriculture, the Modesto Bee newspaper said.

Perdue added Trump is “very bombastic sometimes on things that he believes… but he also has the essence of a good leader who is willing to listen.”

Last month the U.S. Chamber of Commerce described the U.S. demand the NAFTA agreement be renegotiated every five years as a “poison pill,” meant to kill a deal.

Candidate Trump called NAFTA a disaster during last year’s presidential campaign and has often threatened to scrap the agreement.

The next round of NAFTA talks was scheduled for Nov. 17 to 21 in Mexico City.

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